I have seen many business owners focus on improving their product before asking what their customers really need. As a business owner, I know this is an easy trap to slip into. We rush toward modernizing our product to keep up with the “other guys”. Nevertheless, if we create a product that our customers don’t like because we are rushed, we could lose money, time, and hurt our reputations. The first step to improving your business is to know your customers.
4 Questions to Ask Your Customers
What Are Your Customer’s Needs and Wants?
Create a product that solves a problems. You can discover your customer’s problems by studying their buying habits, demographics, and asking for input. If you have already built clientele, than your customers will often gladly provide the information that you need to improve your product.
My word of advice to you: remember, you don’t get to decide what your customers need and want.
You might love the shirt in blue but if your customers want red, than you better be making red. Determining your customer’s needs and wants can be simple with the right tools.
How-To Determine Your Customer’s Needs and Wants
- Online Surveys
- Track Customer’s Buying Habits
- Study the market yourself
- Hire a market research firm
- Place suggestion boxes or comment cards in stores
- Customer reviews, through social media, Google and Yelp
- Ask them!
What Are Your Companies Best Resources and Strengths?
I have been an entrepreneur for over 15 years and crafted many strategies for my best resources. Your best resources will change indefinitely. If I had used the same strategy, no matter my team or technology, than I could not have strengthened my companies. If your goal is to grow your company, than you have to be prepared to often craft a new business plan for your existing strengths.
A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats Analysis (SWOT) test can help you craft a strategy to distinguish yourself from competitors. The SWOT Analysis was developed in the 1960’s by Albert S Humphrey. The internal business tool identifies many factors of your business productivity. Every business has different opportunities, threats and talents.
SWOT Analysis Findings
- Low cost resources
- Advantages of your organization
- Actions that lose sales
- Actions that get sales
- Your market’s interesting trends
- Changes in social patterns, population, government policy, etc.
- Local events
- Obstacles that interfere with business productivity
- Advances in business technology
How is Your Company Different than Others?
To determine how your company is different than others, ask yourself:
“Why should people buy from me, rather than my competitors?”
No business is exactly alike. To be successful, you must find your niche and recognize how you can use your strength to outperform competitors. Your difference is one of your most marketable traits.
For example, Tom Shoes donates a pair of shoes to an impoverish person for every product purchased. This means, you are supporting the wellbeing of someone less fortunate than you. Their company tagline is “the more you give, the more you live”. Without their donation option, Tom Shoes would be just another shoe designer. They do not use higher quality material or manufacturing than other mid-priced shoe companies. Tom Shoes’ commitment to giving has helped create their growing sales.
Characteristics that Can Differentiate You from Other Companies
- Higher quality materials
- Hours of operation
- Expedited shipping
- Easy and simpler online channels
- Donated revenue
Can You Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes?
Empathy can get you a long way in business. If you are not naturally empathetic, learn how to be! Some of the best business owners use empathy to relate to their customers, better able to understand their customer experience. I can guarantee that at some point, you will have an unhappy customer. One of the most valuable actions that you can do is listening and telling your customers that you understand.
By being able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you can repair the relationship and improve the unsatisfactory service for future clients.
Steps to respond to a customer complaint
- Encourage a dialogue and list
- Say you understand and apologize
- Provide a complimentary product or service
Questioning your business strategies is an ongoing process to improve your customer experience, and your business or product exists to improve your customer’s lives. Technology is always evolving, and new products and services are unceasingly offered. If your business is not meeting your goals than it might be time to rebuild your business model based on what your customers are asking.
3 Questions to Ask When Evaluating What Your Customers Want
What are my customer’s demographics?
Customer demographics determine where opportunities exist. The consumer’s buying habits can vary depending on location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, education, and other basic lifestyle distinctions. We use demographics to determine where we should focus on building more sales.
For example, if your targeted customers are millennials, you can create more sales by creating emotional value. They are more willing to support companies that do something good for the community or the planet, such as a 1% purchase revenue to charity.
On the other hand, boomers are outspending other generation by an estimated $400 billion each year. They will spend more to receive a highly valued product. Using the best fabrics can create more sales. Boomers spend most of their money on leisure, health and wellness.
What are my most popular products or services?
Isn’t is annoying when your favorite breakfast cereal is out of stock at the grocery store? We don’t want to annoy our customers. To keep customers coming back, always make sure your most popular product is on hand and in many cases, create an updated version. Almost every company has fringe products that are wasting their time. The best products are regularly purchased because it solves a problem. You can measure your product revenue from reporting software.
What are customers saying in reviews?
If you aren’t getting reviews, get them! Reviews are one of the most upfront methods to know exactly what your customers are thinking. You can use reviews to solve problems by directly asking for feedback on surveys. The valuable tools can save you time, money and frustration. There are many outlets for reviews. Be sure you respond to your clients if they post a comment.
Outlets for Online Reviews
- Social Media –Google+ and Facebook
- Customer Surveys –“Survey Monkey“
- Online support forms
- Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Local.com
My experience has taught me to firstly focus on your customers to create a product that is in demand. The pressure to stay on top of market trends can lead us to treating our product before the customer. If you are doing this than you are not alone. Don’t give yourself too hard of a time. But stop! The bad habit can prevent us from meeting our business goals. Your customers can be the number one management tool to meeting your business goals.